BY CILLIAN ZEAL
If you follow politics intently, the last week likely feels as if you were picked up by a tornado on Monday and then pretty much spat out on Saturday.
In a seven-day period which was bookended with a Syrian chemical attack on its own people on one Saturday and an allied strike led by the U.S. against Syria for that attack on the other Saturday. In between, there was the raid on Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and Mark Zuckerberg testifying before both houses of Congress.
With all of the kerfuffle over that, you may have missed Mike Pompeo’s confirmation hearings for the secretary of state position, or the fact that Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey decided to use the occasion to badger the current CIA director over his religious beliefs.
In a clip from the confirmation hearings that would have been the biggest story of most any other week, Booker began by asking whether Pompeo, who has taught Sunday school in the past, believes same-sex relationships are morally wrong.
“Is being gay a perversion?” Booker asked
“Senator, when I was a politician I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same sex persons to marry, I stand by that,” Pompeo said.
“So you do not believe it’s OK for two gay people to marry?” Booker continued.
“I stand by that view, it’s the same view, by the way,” Pompeo responded.
“And so people in the State Department, I’ve met some in Africa that are married. So under your leadership, you believe that should not be allowed?” Booker asked.
“Senator, we have married gay couples, I believe, at the CIA,” Pompeo replied. “You should know, I treated them with the exact same rights –”
Clearly unwilling to let Pompeo interrupt a good clip for the inevitable fundraising email to supporters showing him bravely not allowing a Trump nominee to actually answer a question, Booker interjected again to ask, “Do you believe that gay sex is a perversion? Yes or no?”
“My respect for every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, is the same,” Pompeo answered.
And that’s when Booker worked himself into a towering rage straight off the pages of the HuffPo.
“You’re going to be secretary of state of the United States at a time that we have an increase of hate speech and hate actions against Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, Indian Americans,” Booker said. “Hate acts are on the increase against these Americans. You’re going to be representing this country and values abroad in places where gay individuals are under untold persecution, face untold violence.
“Your views do matter,” Booker said sternly. “You’re going to be dealing with Muslim states on Muslim issues. I do not necessarily concur that you are putting forth the values of our nation when you believe there are people in our country that are perverse, and where you think that you create different categories of Americans and their obligations when it comes to condemning of violence.”
Now, let’s again examine that statement absent of the manufactured emotion that no doubt went into producing it.
Firstly, the secretary of state is not responsible — in any way, shape or form — for hate crimes in any way. It’s worth noting that while no data on Trump’s first year in office has been released, the rise in hate crimes that we can measure (while relatively insubstantial) took place during the last two years of the Obama administration. If cabinet members who deal primarily with international relations can affect whether hate crimes are committed in this country, Booker’s reservations about how the previous administration’s cabinet was handling it remain curiously unrecorded.
The second part of Booker’s rant should worry every American — namely, when he says, “Your views do matter” and the intimation that if “you believe there are people in our country that are perverse” you should not be secretary of state.
When Booker says “your views do matter,” what he means is “your religious beliefs do matter.” Pompeo was a representative from Kansas before he took a position in the Trump administration and was against same-sex marriage legislation, presumably at the federal level, since that’s where he served.
Booker is essentially saying that those who take the Bible seriously and believe that a) its religious prohibitions on same-sex relations, which are very much foregrounded in the Good Book, aren’t abrogated by modern political correctness and b) that the intent of the 14th Amendment when it was enacted wasn’t necessarily to allow same-sex couples to marry, as the Supreme Court eventually found in Obergefell v. Hodges.
In other words, what Booker is insisting Pompeo undergo is a religious test. This may be prohibited under the Constitution, but that hasn’t stopped other Democrats from insisting that those who hold Christian beliefs not take the Bible seriously.
Booker’s justification for this can be found later in his soliloquy, when he says Pompeo believes “there are people in our country that are perverse.”
This isn’t true. Pompeo has, at least as far as I know, never said publicly that gay people are “perverse.” The only person saying that about Pompeo is Booker, and he didn’t actually wait for an answer when he accused Pompeo of believing same-sex relations are perverse.
Pompeo believes what hundreds of millions — if not billions — of Christians across the world believe: that same-sex relations are sinful. That doesn’t mean they don’t respect gay people or believe they have a right to engage in whatever consensual acts they want to with another adult. They simply believe it’s not biblical, the same way they believe drinking to excess, greed or adultery aren’t biblical.
Yet, one assumes Pompeo has worked alongside people who are adulterers, or greedy, or like more than just a tipple or two during his career, and has done so without treating them like Fred Phelps might have.
“My respect for every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, is the same,” Pompeo said. This is the important part. Anything else is simply a religious test cooked up by a senator quite blatantly pandering to the base in order to set himself up high in the strata of Democrat candidates for 2020.